Thursday, November 21, 2019

Cloud 9: ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG

Caryl Churchill's plays are always a hoot. She defaults your presets. This British playwright wants to skewer everyone's expectations, not only about gender and sexuality, but also how they are presented on stage. Once she's done that, she spins a yarn that makes you nod your head and laugh as you are scratching your chin in wonder.

"Cloud 9" was written in 1979. It is as relevant now as it was then. The story takes place in two time periods, the first in South Africa in 1879, and the second some twenty-five years later, as the characters we saw in Act One have either aged as adults or grown up if they were children.

Well, sort of. In Act Two, the actors from Act One change parts and sexes and everything seems pretty darned confusing, until you sit back in your chair and roll with it. It is a pleasure to do so.

Evan Winet plays the quintessentially Modern Major General in Act One and a bearded spoiled child in Act Two. Mario Mazzetti plays Winet's Victorian wife in Act One and grown-up Edward in act Two, while Alejandra Wahl is baby Edward followed by adult Vic. Others in the cast play duplicate roles and genders as well. Alan Coyne is particularly evil as a black servant although he is white, followed by a coldhearted, trolling gay man who may actually be the only one with a moral compass.

We loved the costumes by Candice Liao, not an easy task due to changing eras. Allie Moss's direction keeps everyone out of each other's way, also not a simple assignment.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division grants "Cloud 9" Three Stars with a Bangle of Praise. Act Two runs a bit long as the author is trying to lead you home. The idea seems to be "Relax. We Are Who We Are. Try Laughing."

The Bangle is for the entire ensemble cast. We really got behind this show.

"Cloud 9"
Custom Made Theatre
533 Sutter Street
Through Dec. 15

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